What I’ve Learned from Over a Year of Post-Workout Meditation

A woman practicing post-workout meditation

I’ve been meditating regularly for a few years now. I started when I was working 14-hour days, struggling with intense anxiety, and was desperately in need of something to help me manage it. I hadn’t really thought about post-workout meditation, specifically, though, until I started seeing Whole30 creator Melissa Urban talking about it.

For the last year (and then some), I’ve been meditating after my workouts are complete, just for a few minutes, and it’s been a game-changer. I literally just sit down on the floor after I’ve stretched, set a timer (I like the Insight Timer app), close my eyes, and focus on my breath. Here are four of the biggest lessons I’ve learned after adopting this practice.

1. Breath Is Powerful

I already knew this from being a regular meditator. Since I started meditating after workouts, though, I’ve become even more aware of how effective deep belly breathing is. It helps me bring my heart rate down and get into more of a parasympathetic state after I’m done exercising.

Meditating gives me a chance to calm down my mind, too. I have a tendency to, as soon as my workout is over, run off to the next activity, and feel a little frantic. When I take the time to meditate and cool down a little, I’m less tense and feel more relaxed as I get on with my day.

2. I’ve Never Regretted a Meditation Session

There’s a saying that I hear all the time — “you’ll never regret a workout.” Honestly, there have been some times when I’ve worked out and, not necessarily regretted it, but felt that maybe I overdid it or that I would’ve been better off taking a rest day. I can say, though, that I’ve never regretted a meditation session.

Taking a few minutes to stop moving, check-in with my breath, and just “be” always has positive results for me. After a year-plus of post-workout meditation, in particular, I’ve learned that a meditation session, even a short one, is always a good idea, at least in my case.

3. Pairing Is Great for Habit-Formation

One of my favorite strategies for building a healthy habit is pairing it with something you already do. James Clear refers to this as “habit stacking” and Gretchen Rubin refers to it as the “Strategy of Pairing.”

Before I started meditating after my workouts, I would sometimes struggle to fit my meditation sessions into my routine. I’d go all day without it and then, usually when I was feeling extra anxious or stressed, I’d realize that I hadn’t meditated.

Now that I meditate after my workouts, though, I’m less likely to forget to do it. I’ve made it a habit to sit for a few minutes after my workout, and it feels natural to do that instead of moving right on to the next task/activity*.

4. I Can Meditate Anywhere

In addition to helping me get comfortable with post-workout meditation, Melissa Urban also got me comfortable with the idea of post-workout meditation in a busy gym.

I’m not working out in a gym right now, but when I was, I had no qualms about sitting down after my post-workout stretch to meditate for a few minutes. I’d move to a somewhat uncrowded part of the gym so that I wasn’t in anyone’s way, but then I’d go ahead and take a few minutes to breathe by myself, regardless of what anyone else around me might’ve been thinking.

Even though I’m not meditating in the gym right now, I still carry this lesson with me that I can meditate anywhere. I might not always sit down n the floor to do it, but I can stop and check in with my breath no matter where I am — the grocery store, in the car, out on a walk with my dog, etc.

If I hadn’t started making post-workout meditation a thing, I don’t know that I would’ve really started practicing outside of my house, and I would’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities to reconnect with my breath, calm myself down, and get in touch with how I’m feeling.

Give Post-Workout Meditation a Chance

I love my post-workout meditation, and it’s made a big difference in my life. If you struggle with anxiety, if you have trouble sleeping, or if you just have had a hard time making meditation a consistent part of your routine, pairing it with your workout might be a good way to fit it in and create a habit. If you want to learn more about getting started with meditation, check out this post for my top four tips.

Do you meditate? When do you practice it? What have you learned from meditating, whether you do it regularly or every once in a while?

*On days when I don’t workout (mainly weekends), I meditate first thing in the morning. I pair it with my morning routine and am able to still be consistent with it, but I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer post-workout meditation to morning meditation.

2 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned from Over a Year of Post-Workout Meditation

  1. David Earley says:

    This is a great idea Natalie. I’ve read about meditation and have tried to get into it before. Most people recommend the first thing, or last thing of the day approach.

    For me, I’m still too tired in the a.m. and it takes a bit of time to wake up. By the end of the day it’s too late and I’ve already forgotten. However, I workout mid afternoon and haven’t thought about trying it at that time. It’s probably 99% more beneficial than most post workout stretch routines too.

    Do you feel like it’s easy to bring yourself back down and relax right after the workout?

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